Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate has granted the Kentucky Education Association’s motion to join Attorney General Andy Beshear’s lawsuit against Gov. Matt Bevin’s reorganization of education boards.
Lawyers in the case are headed to court Wednesday for a hearing on whether Beshear’s lawsuit should be dismissed. Wingate, in an agreed order signed Aug. 2, didn’t say why he allowed the KEA to intervene in the lawsuit. The governor’s office and the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet filed a motion in July to dismiss the lawsuit. Bevin has said the reorganization of the boards is permitted under state law.
Bevin, a Republican, signed an executive order June 2 that dissolved and reorganized several state education boards, giving him more control over the boards. Beshear, a Democrat, responded to the executive order by suing Bevin for the fourth time, claiming that the governor didn’t have the authority to do that. Beshear’s lawsuit, filed in Franklin Circuit Court, asked for a permanent injunction against implementing Bevin’s order.
KEA is a voluntary membership organization for Kentucky public school employees, including approximately 26,000 active teachers. KEA officials say that if the executive order is made permanent, it will impair the statutory authority of the Education Professional Standards Board, which oversees educator certification.
A KEA motion filed in opposition to the lawsuit dismissal said that approximately 785 teachers are currently subject to disciplinary proceedings before the Education Professional Standards Board, and that Bevin’s order creates “multiple levels of uncertainty for these teachers.” The attorney general said in a court document that Bevin’s order rewrites state law, turning the formerly independent executive director of the professional standards board into an at-will employee of the governor.
Officials in Bevin’s office did not immediately respond Tuesday to questions about Wingate’s order.
Despite the lawsuit, Bevin’s executive order is already being carried out. The Kentucky Board of Education has held an extra meeting to approve professional standards board regulations as the executive order requires. New advisory members appointed to the state board of education as a result of Bevin’s order participated during the board’s regular meeting last week.